GRANTS PASS — The stakes were high Saturday in the Southwest Conference finale for the North Medford boys soccer team but, playing its fourth game in eight days, the Black Tornado didn’t have anything left in the tank to give.
North fell behind early in the first half on a penalty kick and never recovered, losing 3-0 to Grants Pass, which secured the No. 2 spot in the SWC by leapfrogging the Tornado (7-4-3, 7-3-2) in the final season standings. As a result, North drops to a lower seed entering the upcoming 6A playoffs.
The Cavemen (8-2-4, 7-1-4), who tied North 1-1 in the teams’ first meeting this season, had four days to prepare for the match, while North had just one, Tornado coach Michael Belzberg noted.
“Grants Pass did a great job with their ability to take us out of our game,” Belzberg said. “They’re a good team and they deserved that second-place spot.”
“Today we were totally off and they were totally on,” he added. “Everybody has a hard time in that stadium because it’s a tough place to play.”
The Tornado is now tasked with recharging its battery this week prior to its playoff match next Saturday.
“We’ll see how they show up and if they regroup,” Belzberg said.
SOUTH MEDFORD 3, WILLAMETTE 2: South Medford sophomore Ruben Rodriguez put away a low shot to the far post with one minute left in regulation to lift the Panthers to a key victory in their Southwest Conference finale.
South Medford (3-9-2, 3-8-1 SWC) needed the win to maintain any hopes of advancing to the 32-team Class 6A state playoffs, and remained just outside that picture as of press time at No. 39 in the state power rankings. Essentially, the top 28 ranked teams advance automatically, with the next eight teams facing a play-in game for the final four spots.
Willamette (4-7-3, 2-7-3) was the beneficiary of an own goal by the Panthers in the second minute but junior Calvin Whitley evened the match in the fifth minute on a header following Mark Anguiano’s corner kick.
Sam Hayter made it 2-1 Willamette in the fifth minute on a 20-yard shot. Whitley answered again, however, two minutes later when he won a loose ball in the box and scored for South.
That score held up until Anguiano was able to find Rodriguez in an all-or-nothing scramble at the end.
THURSTON 5, CRATER 1: At Eugene, Crater fell behind 3-0 in the first half in losing a Midwestern League match against host Thurston.
Oziel Aguirre found the back of the net unassisted in the opening minute of the second half to account for the lone goal for the Comets (2-9-1, 0-6 MWL).
Keeper Joaquin Valle held the back end together for Crater, coming up with about 15 saves in the first half to slow the Colts (5-8-1, 3-3-1).
CHURCHILL 4, EAGLE POINT 0: At Eugene, Eagle Point struggled to get off any shots against a tough opponent in blustery, wet and cold conditions, dropping a Midwestern League match to host Churchill.
Jaydyn Budrow played well at the striker position and Elvis Cisneros was a defensive standout for the Eagles (3-8-1, 1-4-1 MWL), who scored an own goal and trailed 2-0 at halftime.
Isaias Monjaras pulled off a hat trick to lead the Lancers (6-6-1, 4-2).
ST. MARY’S 9, PACIFIC/BANDON 0: St. Mary’s closed in on an unbeaten District 5 season by shutting out visiting Pacific/Bandon at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Weston Grant posted a pair of goals and an assist and Will Kranenburg added one goal and three assists for the Crusaders (11-1-1, 11-0), who led 6-0 at halftime.
Also for St. Mary’s, Pablo Cortez and Nathan Sternenberg both had a goal and an assist, while Roman Bobek, Justin Silsbee, Max Lewis and Kyle Borovansky scored one goal apiece and Andrew Michels and Preston James each added an assist.
LAKEVIEW 6, ROGUE RIVER 2: At Rogue River, Lakeview scored three goals within a 12-minute span early in the second half to pull away from Rogue River in a District 5 match.
Junior striker Sebastian Poston scored twice for Rogue River, including the equalizer in the 27th minute — with an assist from senior midfield Camilo Martinez — one minute after Lakeview scored the opening goal.
But unlike the teams’ first meeting of the season — a 3-2 victory for Rogue River — the Honkers (3-11, 3-9 Dist. 5) exploited their superior size by deploying a more physical attack, setting the Chieftains (4-8-1, 2-8-1) back on their heels.
Rogue River wraps up its regular season Monday with a makeup match against St. Mary’s at U.S. Cellular, originally scheduled as a home match for the Chieftains.